Living By Faith
Robert Wurtz II
Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. (Galatians 4:23, 24)
In our previous study entitled, “Word Generated Faith” we discussed the fact that faith originates with God. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. We went on to show that no Word from God shall be void of power. God spoke the worlds into existence according to Genesis 1. Hebrews 11:3 tells us that by faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God. Notice the passage did not say, “by understanding we have faith.” An attitude of right response (faith) must precede understanding. This is the key factor. Why? Because faith has to do with obedience; that is to say, it deals with our desire to do the will of our creator. If we insert our definition of faith into Hebrews 11:3 it makes complete sense; “By rightly responding to revelation we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Hebrews 11:3).
The power of God’s spoken word
Though God framed the worlds by His Word in Genesis 1, the Serpent was successful in casting doubt upon the power of God’s word. Eve was beguiled and deceived, but Adam knew absolutely what God had said. He had to choose who he would believe: God or Satan? He believed Satan.
Satan is able to cast doubt upon God’s words because our own personal will (desire) and our willingness to respond rightly to revelation (faith), are connected. In other words, if we are moving in self-will, we will adjust our beliefs to suit our own will. If our heart is not right with God, we will refuse to acknowledge truth (God’s revealed will). How does this play out? When God speaks and a person responds with, “I don’t believe it”, whta the person is really saying is “I’m not doing it!” This is why unbelief is sin; it is the subtle means of relief that a human being employs to break the tension of mind and conscience when he/she has a clash between their will and God’s will. It is a refusal to acknowledge. Why? Because most people are not bold enough to defy God face to face so they merely pretend not to know what God has said or not to believe what He has said. They fool themselves, but they don’t fool God.
Revelation mixed with faith
In our previous study we said that when God speaks to us or if He brings revelation of His will to us, we are enabled by His grace to accomplish what has been said. His word is the vehicle by which He brings His grace; our faith (right response) must be mixed with what has been said. If we believe God and hearken unto Him, we are counting Him faithful; if we refuse to respond we are committing sin. Why? God has given the revelation of His will and the means (grace) to accomplish it; all is left is for us to “mix in faith”. When God reveals His will to us we are both enabled and required to respond.
In the faith? or In the flesh?
Our passage in Galatians 4:23-24 gives us a very simple definition of the phrase “in the flesh”, but we have to go back and read the story of Ishmael and Isaac to understand it. He who was born “after the flesh“ was the bondwoman’s son Ishmael. His birth was the consequence of Sarah suggesting to Abraham that he go in to the Egyptian woman to fulfill the promise of God that Abraham would have a son. This is a very important truth that we cannot ignore; we must keep it before our minds. Abraham was up in years and so was Sarah. In their hearts they knew time was running out. This is when the enemy comes around. People start to take matters into their own hands.
God gives this counsel to those that live by faith; For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. (Habakkuk 2:3) The vision originated in God, not man. This is not someone speaking on God’s behalf and then God following up and performing what the person said. This is a heavenly vision. It is for a time appointed by God; that time cannot be altered. If it seems to tarry we must wait for it. Why? Because the just shall live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4). This is right where Abraham and Sarah found themselves. They had received a Word from God (promise) and as time went on or “it tarried” they became vulnerable to the enemies well-planned strategy. They were supposed to wait, but they took matters into their own hands.
Just add a pinch of Egypt?
Satan always seeks to add just a little bit of Egypt into everything God is doing. It is easy to see in hindsight. As Satan went to Eve to derail Adam, so he went to Sarah to derail Abraham. It didn’t happen over night. It was a very subtle plan. it went totally undetected. How? Satan enticed Abraham and Sarah to detour down into Egypt; then, while there, he moved them to pick up a young slave woman. Before long, Satan, in the mouth of Sarah, suggested that Abraham use the slave woman as the surrogate mother for the promise of God. It all seemed to make perfect sense. God provide a slave woman to fulfill his promise. Right? Wrong! Each step they took in Egypt they were missing God and fulfilling the Devil’s plan. It was all probably rationalized in their own minds. It all made sense. But they whist not that they were being set-up to miss God’s will. Why? They had a promise from God and were trying to accomplish it in their own fleshly way. they were going to “help God out.”
The Just Shall Live By Faith
Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith. (Habakkuk 2:4)
Notice what facilitates missing God’s will through an act in the flesh; his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him. The prophet is putting his finger on the tendency of man to lean to his own understanding and do his own will, rather than humbling himself before His Creator. This is powerful. Even when God has a plan for our lives, sometimes we can interject our own will, creating a mixture. This is what Ishmael was; he was the consequence of a mixture between God’s Word and Sarah’s word. Abraham moved in both and the results were a corruption of God’s purposes. God rejected it all together. Although Abraham wanted Ishmael to be the promised son, God said no. He was rejected as the promise. He was an imposter. No amount of pleading with God could change that. Paul called him a “child of the flesh” or “the offspring of one moving in the flesh.” That which is born of the flesh persecutes that which is born of the Spirit (Galatians 4:29). Why? Because it is not of God.
In the flesh
To be “in the flesh”, therefore, is to hearken to some other revelation than God’s revelation or to mix some other revelation with God’s revelation. We must move in the pure word of God. To move in a mixture is not faith; it is sin. Why? Because you are adding to or taking away from what God has said. Partial obedience is still disobedience. How could God’s will be fulfilled by employing means other than He has prescribed? It is impossible. Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that is proceeding from the mouth of God.
Learning to wait
The just choose to stand upon God’s word and wait for Him to fulfill the promise that was made. They do not jump-the-gun or try to manipulate circumstances. Submitting to this process is what it is to “live by faith”. The waiting period is the trial period. What will we do? Will we succumb to the long, drawn–out strategy of the enemy, that he has been working (probably unbeknownst unto us) or will we wait on the vision?
The power of the spoken word
It may seem like a contradiction at this point, but there is a sense in which our words have the power to bring faith; not faith for miracles, but faith to do fleshly acts. We can speak something and a person act on it in faith (obedience) and no telling what is going to happen. Sarah gave a word to Abraham and he responded to it. It did not bring about a miraculous birth, but the natural process of sowing and reaping. Sarah spoke Ishmael into existence when she spoke when God was not speaking; not supernaturally, but naturally. One thing is certain, if it is not God speaking it is not going to accomplish God’s will; it will accomplish the enemies will. Lesson? be very careful who you allow to speak into your life, because you might just be believing it and acting on it. Is it God’s will or human will? This is the great question.
when God has given us a promise, and that promise seems to tarry, frustration and impatience can cause us to miss God. Abraham was a man of great faith, but in the case of Ishmael he missed God completely and set into motion realities that still fill the headlines of our Newspapers. Why? Because when the vision tarried the Devil started talking and Sarah and he started listening. As V. Raymond Edmond has said, “Never doubt in the darkness what God has clearly shown you in the light.” That is to say, don’t second guess what God has said just because circumstances seem to be changing. God is not a man that flippantly changes His mind. Probably one of the greatest lies of the devil, “God changed His mind.” No He did not…
For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. (Habakkuk 2:3)
Is this God or not?
had Abraham had the hindsight that we have today there is no doubt there would have never have been an Ishmael. There would never have been an Egypt or a Hagar. But he was living and learning and his life is our example. We can see how a man bent on pleasing God can be deceived into thinking he is fulfilling God’s plan by doing some lesser thing. The enemy used Abraham’s wife to sow the seeds into his mind. This is important to stop and consider; because a wife has a unique place in her man’s life. She can either counsel a good thing or move him to do evil. Few people have the ear of a man like their wife or their daughter(s). Speak wisely. Learn from Eve and Sarah. If the enemy can get to the wife he has the fast–track to the husband.
An Indecent Proposal?
It probably seemed strange to Abraham that she would even suggest such a thing as to have relations with a different woman. It was counter intuitive. What woman would possibly suggest another woman have her husband‘s baby? It was insanity. The jealousy that should have existed in her heart was somehow restrained. No doubt the enemy was back of that too. It is obvious to me that she was under the enemies’ spell, if I might so say. She was not in her right mind. The spell broke when she saw Ishmael mocking Isaac, but then it was too late. The scales fell off, but the damage was done. There was now a child of the bondwoman to compete with the child of the free woman. After it was all said and done it was obvious that the “leading“ or “idea“ she had was not from the Lord. It is just sad that there was none to correct them.
The Spirit and the Word agree
Abraham had no Bible. There was nothing written for his example and learning. We are at a great advantage, because the knowledge of God covers much of the world today. In the churches of God the Holy Spirit will not lead us in a way that is contrary to the will and word of God. Keep that very clear. But we must commend ourselves to God and to the Word of His grace. We have to hear what the Spirit is saying unto us so that we might spot error and deception when we see it. In our next entry we will examine God’s method of building us up into what He has planned for us.